Respect What Hits You in the Gut

Once in a while something hits you in the gut.  It could be anything.

I was in an Anatomy class.  Dissecting cadavers forces students to face the reality of life and death.  It might trigger something you didn’t know it was there.

Each person has their own trigger quietly waiting for them.   It could be the scar tissue left by triple bypass surgery brutally adhered to the ribcage.   It could be the massive adipose tissue in which the person’s life story was stored.   It could be just realizing being alive juxtaposed with the death.

I was aware that something could hit me.  After all, we were looking inside human bodies, our bodies.  Almost 3 weeks had passed and a couple of days were left till the end of the workshop.  So far I managed not to step on my trigger which I had no idea about.  Surprisingly nothing about cadavers really bothered me.  I felt I was in peace.

When I came back to the gross anatomy lab from the lunch break, there was something going on.   On a stainless steel dissection table, something unfamiliar to me were placed.  They were so red.  The sight slightly shocked me.  I couldn’t guess what they were.

They were placenta donated by happy new mothers.   Three of them lined up with umbilical cords attached.  They were massive and looked alive.

I was speechless.  Students started to gather for the presentation by the midwife.   One of the cord was in true knot.  “The baby did it,” the midwife said.  “The baby swam around in the placenta.  The baby was born fine.”  A male student realized his wife had an unusually large-sized afterbirth and wanted to know the reason behind it.  “A large placenta usually is compensating for the baby,” the midwife said.

And it hit me in the gut.

I couldn’t stay there anymore.  I quietly moved out of the crowd.  The male student asked me if I was O.K.  I realized I was crying.  I retreated to my cadaver.

And I have no idea what hit me.  I don’t have any trauma related to placenta or childbirth.

Later the midwife came to acknowledge my reaction.

“I have no idea,” I said with tears flowing from my eyes.  “See? Just talking about it does this to me.”

“It could be yours,” she said.

“Mine?  I’ve never been pregnant.”

“No, I mean the one you were in.”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t have to know.  It’s important just to acknowledge that it’s there.”

“Damn.  I found another (issue to work on) when I thought I was well-done.”

“It sucks, doesn’t it.”

“Yes, it never ends.”

I still don’t know what hit me.  Every time I talk about my encounter with placenta, I still feel the tears running down my cheeks and I don’t have any emotional association with it.

So at this time of my life, I just respect what hit me in the gut, acknowledge it is there, and hold my psyche gently.  There will be the day we see each other again.

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